By Cameron Lord for the Big Sky Weekly

November can be dark and dreary,
with cold weather and snow, little
work to go around, and no skiing
until Thanksgiving. Aside from
the weekend diversion of watching
football, what is one to do? Here’s a
crazy notion—try writing a book.
Each November, a growing number
of people participate in National
Novel Writing Month, known
in shorthand as “NaNoWriMo.”
Participants endeavor to write a
50,000-word novel in 30 days. Last
year, over 200,000
amateur writers
attempted the feat,
and more than
30,000 succeeded.
Perhaps you’re lamenting
you have
nothing to write
about. NaNoWriMo
founder
Chris Baty argues
that contrary to
popular belief, good ideas usually
become a burden instead of a boon
to NaNoWriMo participants.
In his companion guide, No Plot?
No Problem!, he explains, “Once
you stumble across a fantastic,
once-in-a-lifetime idea for a book,
it’s hard to treat that story with
the irreverent disregard needed to
transform it from a great idea into a
workable rough draft.” Baty says a
week is the perfect amount of time
for prewriting and planning. Any
more, and you risk stumbling upon
a good idea.
So if plot truly isn’t a problem,
what about the practical issue of
finding time to write? To help you
calibrate, 50,000 words is approximately
the length of The Great
Gatsby, Brave New World, and The
Catcher in the Rye—shorter than
many novels, but by no means a
“novella.” This pencils to approximately
1,700 words per day, or
roughly four to six word processor
pages. Most writers find they can
reach their daily quota in one to
three hours. While that’s not an
insignificant amount of time, it’s
certainly workable. If nothing else,
it gives you something to do while
you’re stuck indoors.
So you’re going
to have the
free time, and
you don’t even
need a plot…
but you’re still
not convinced.
When else are
you going to
be snowbound,
underemployed,
and looking for
something to do? Hey, it worked
for Jack Nicholson’s character in
“The Shining,” right? (oh wait,
scratch that). So, if the ridiculous
notion of writing a book in a month
just happens to strike a chord with
you, hop on board the crazy-train
at nanowrimo.org. I’ll be giving it a
shot, and I hope you do too.

Cameron is a former
banker, parttime
blogger and
full-time gaper
who shares his
misadventures as
he learns about
mountain life in
Big Sky. Read his blog at highlighter-
theory.typepad.com
.

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